Fallout 4: Settle Down

Normally, I like to intersperse these blog posts with lots of screen pics – hell, half the time I spend in Fallout is running around taking pictures of stuff.  There are days when trying to figure out how to arrange the blog around the screenshots takes more time than writing the damn thing.  Anyway, we’ll be sparse on those today, ’cause I had an epiphany.

I thought that once I got “Radio Freedom” up and running at the Castle, I’d start being bombarded with Minuteman radiant quests … “radiant” being gamer code for “lather rinse repeat” because you just end up going to the same damn dungeon over and over and over again …

… sorry, dungeons are in Skyrim.  This is Fallout.  If it were Skyrim, it would be less about exploring and more about admiring the view before going to the Bannered Mare to get hammered, so revisiting the same ruin twenty times wouldn’t be as annoying as it is in Fallout, especially since Skyrim didn’t bring the hate the same way Fallout 4 does.  When I’ve dragged my bloody carcass through a living hell of grenade throwing super mutants in order to clear a building, it would be nice to think it stayed cleared.  But no – the next day, same damn quest.

But no, the radio was fine – they didn’t start the endless radiant quests until I built the artillery.

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This is my boomstick.

I won’t claim it was as difficult as the Manhattan Project, but I wouldn’t say no if you compared it to building the Great Wall of China.

See, they said the settlement building was “optional,” but we all knew they were lying.  Building the artillery required more raw materials than building the Titanic, with the exception of those parts that were Kate Winslet.  But even assuming I was willing to lug several hundred pounds of assorted steel, screws, gears, and oil back the Castle, I would still need someone to man the damn thing, which would mean sparing someone from farming and –

OMG I am going to go play Goat Sim.

The answer was high school economics, where, if you will recall from Mr. Garcia’s lecture, the secret to capitalism was specialization.

Wait, maybe I learned that from playing Civilization.  I often get those two confused.

Anyway, once I discovered that Outpost Zimonja had like, more people than Hong Kong, I decided the best thing to do would be to maybe start some supply lines.1

That way, I could share food between, say Outpost Zimonja (10 settlers, no crops) and GreyGarden (0 settlers, crapload of crops), thus freeing up the settlers at Zimonja to, I dunno, raise cattle or something:

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I have no idea how these got here.

But apparently I gave them too much free time, because once I built the artillery, rather than having fun blowing the crap out of Boston, I started getting sent on endless quests to help my settlements, provided you understand that by settlements, I mean it’s always Outpost Zimonja.

Well, I exaggerate.  It was only Zimonja about 123% of the time – otherwise, it was The Slog, or Abernathy Farms.  I’ve got something like fifteen settlements, but it was always those three, and always some variant of:

“My (husband / wife / brother / sister / friend / dog / pet rock) has been kidnapped!”

“Go kill sum raiders.”

“Go kill sum super mutants.”

“Go kill some ghouls.”

At one point, there’s even a dialogue option for “are ghouls always this much of a problem?” but no sidequest to invent an anti-ghoul spray or anything, and apparently even if you ring the entire farm with turrety-death, them pesky ghouls just keep coming back.

But what was really horkin’ me off was it was always. Outpost. Zimonja.  To the point I was thinking of just letting them be overrun, just so they’d stop bugging me.

But no … I have seen the value of settlements with strong supply lines, and due to its excess population, Zimonja was now the hub of commerce in the Commonwealth –

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“The business of America is business.” – Coolidge

I think, though I’m too lazy to actually confirm it, that all the settlements on a supply line can share resources, so if I have a route from Zimonja to Santuary, and from Sanctuary to Greygarden, then Zimonja and Greygarden can share resources.  Which has the added advantage that you can dump you junk anywhere, rather than the specific outpost where you need to build something.

Which meant it was time to start getting crazy … I’ve build my Taj Mahal in Sanctuary, but I think we need a little something … extra.  Like a bar.  I can build one of those (requires “Local Leader Rank 2”) but … crap, now I need a settler to work it2 . I don’t wanna build a recruitment beacon in Sanctuary, because then I’ll just be buried in settlers.

Fortunately, Zimonja has way so many people they’re getting in the way of the cows.  I think I’ll send some of them to Sanctuary.  There, done!  Time to grab Piper and hit the Sanctuary Promenade, grab some dinner, some drinks, go dancing … hey, why am I getting all these quests to help Sanctuary?  I never got those before.  Ok, ok … who do I have to go talk to?

WTF?  It’s the settler from Outpost Zimonja!  Which is my epiphany for the night – maybe radiant quests aren’t tagged by location, but by NPC.  Maybe it’s always the same settlers, no matter where you send them.

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She’s NEVER happy.

I mean, considering there are only three people at Abernathy Farm, and all of them have been kidnapped, it’s either that, or Blake Abernathy owes the mob some serious caps.

 


  1. Unlike every other settler command in the game, to open a supply line, go into the workshop, then select the settler, but instead of hitting E for command, hit Q for supply line.

  2. Any “station” you build, with the exception of caravan stops, requires a settler assigned to it. Note this means that settlers used for supply lines, bartending, guard posts, etc., can’t be used to grow food. Another advantage of using supply lines.
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Fallout 4: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Wasteland

You ever get that feeling that you’ve played a game too long?   It happens to me in all the games I’ve played; the sky will be getting dark and I’ll be off in the corner of the map, in one of the odd little one-off places they added for the completionists, and no one has any new dialogue, and I swear once an NPC was like, “don’t you have a home to go to IRL?”  And I get to thinking, “maybe I’m really just picking at crumbs by this point.  Hey, when did winter arrive?  What month is it?”

Of course it’s just my perception – I’ve played Skyrim for like 10 million hours1 and I’m still finding new quests. What happens is I put off doing the main quest in the hopes of not missing the sidequests, only to find that you come across the most sidequests while involved in doing something else.  Sigh.  It’s like jobs and girlfriends; you never have one, you have none or too many.

Same applies to power armor.

Now that I’d won Piper’s heart, I figured it was time to grab my oldpal Nick Valentine and go find Virgil in the Glowing Sea.

Nick was cool, ’cause he’s a robot, but if I was gonna come out with all my limbs intact, I was gonna need more than Bactine – I was gonna need sum power armor.  No problem; I left a set back at the Red Rocket Truck Stop, it looked just like in the main loading screen, except for the methed out alcoholic redhead that was living there.

I said goodbye to Piper and learned the lesson of Lot’s wife:

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NEVER look back.

Yeah, she doesn’t take abandonment well.  Which is probably why when I came back, she’d let crackheads room in our house2.

And actually, it turns out nothing in the Wasteland takes abandonment well, because when I hit the Red Rocket …

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We’d like to show you a picture of this power armor, but Raiders won’t let us.

A Raider stole my power armor!  What’s worse – he did it when I was in Sanctuary!  I heard the gunfire, and when I get there, the power armor’s gone, and there’s a dead Raider wearing every. bit. but. the. torso.

Because, you know, the point wasn’t to get power armor, it was to fck with the PC.

Sigh.  So you know how it is … like car keys, now I’m looking around for that spare set I left somewhere…

I was pretty sure I’d left one over by outpost Zima or whatever it was … Preston sent me there to clear it out and set up a recruitment beacon, and one of the raiders had some power armor.  OK, let’s fast travel … hey, how come my happiness is so low… whoa, how the HELL did I get 8 settlers?  That recruitment beacon ain’t whistlin’ Dixie … and of course, they scavenged the HELL out of my power armor, but they. can’t. plant. a. tato.

Or build a water pump.  I know you have steel, ’cause you scavved my power armor.

Alright, the Glowing Sea can wait – let’s see what these freaks want.

“To be honest, we’re kind of short on food.”

Yes, I can see, that, considering I haven’t planted any.  Say, what were you eating before I arrived?  There weren’t, like, 10 of you to start with, were there?  Ick.  Here – how about sum Dandy Boy apples?  Fancy Lad Snack Cakes?  I know these product names are supposed to sound super-consumerist whitebread Americana pre-Resource War and ironic and all that, but some of them sound like things I could buy at Safeway right now.  Blamco Mac and Cheese?  Isn’t that next to Kraft’s?  Aren’t Sugar Bombs out of Calvin and Hobbes?

Whatever, my settlers ain’t eating ’em.  Apparently they only want farm-fresh food.  Listen, you mutant freaks, we’re living in the Wasteland!  You can’t buy free range super mutant at the local Whole Foods.  There’s a crater where the Whole Foods was!  Now it’s a Hole Foods, but it’s filled with Deathclaws and you’re the food!  It is all very terrible and ironic and oh what the hell, I’ll plant sum razorgrain and you can make noodles …

… wait, you’re still not happy.  Maybe if I assign a settler to farm?  Still not enough food … here’s a gourd, some tatos – okay, how much food do these people need, anyway?   Can’t they just .. eat less or something?

OK, that’s enough food .. got enough water pumps to open a car wash, assuming we still had cars.   Why are you people still not happy?  Beds?  Can’t you just share some?  Free love, man!  Okay, maybe not … of course, it’s not like I have a lot of room to build here.  We’re not talking Spanish oak four posters, I’ll be lucky to even fit enough sleeping bags for you lot … of course Preston has me build the recruitment beacons at the smallest possible settlements.  Sanctuary would have been too easy.

There’s 1 … 2 … dammit!  I’m out of cloth … ok, should be easy enough, what’s around here …

… there is not cloth in the entire settlement.  That’s because the previous inhabitants were all wearing power armor.

Okay, let’s put this on hold and go find some cotton.

Fortunately, I almost immediately ran into a raider settlement:

Let’s just loot these corpses here – hey, whaddya mean “Leather Armor” doesn’t count as “cloth.”  Haven’t you ever met Piper?  Okay, never mind – there’s a trailer full of mannequins here, and they’re all –

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Nothing lootable here.
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If only I could find some cloth …
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Not a stitch of fabric anywhere …

I was reduced to rendering toys into stuffing to make beds, kind of like some perverse children’s hospital commercial, but I finally got enough beds to make them happy, and all that was left to do –

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No, sorry, can’t help you with levitating cows.

Was go find some power armor.  I know I left some around here someplace –

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Maybe it’s under this bookshelf.

There were like, half a dozen around here someplace – I never paid attention, ’cause I always had a set.

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Maybe I left it at the hotel?

I finally found a new set at a government checkpoint.  And just like when you give up and buy something new, you find a half-dozen of them lying around – one just sitting around a raider settlement, two that had been formerly occupied by BoS and were currently occupied by corpses … eventually, I couldn’t go 10 feet without tripping over one –

 

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“In yo’ FACE.”  Luv, Fallout 4.

Okay, so now, FINALLY, I’m ready to … wait, what was I trying to do again?

2015-12-27_00017

 

 

  1. Of course that’s an exaggeration; it’s probably really more like 5 million.
  2. But that’s another blog post.

Fallout 4: Love Shack

Sigh.  The course of true love ne’er did run smooth, and neither do Fallout quest lines.

I’ve been flirting with Piper because, you know, leather trenchcoat, and she finally admitted she has feeling for me.  Granted, she did it in the middle of Railroad HQ.

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“OMG.  Get. A. Room.”

But the fact that her reality only tangentially intersects the real one is half the reason I love her.

But now I’ve got a problem – since I’m at her highest “level of affinity”1 and have her Gift of Gab perk, I should really get a new companion.  Which is kind of … awkward, considering we just got whatever the gaming equivalent of engaged is.  Luckily we’re in a video game; it would probably be even worse if this were a love story.  Titanic, for example:

“Hold me, Floyd – ”
<splash>

What to do?  What to do?

The best solution would be for her to go back to Diamond City and keep publishing Publick Occurrences, but Fallout 4 actually makes it incredibly difficult to send companions back to where you met them.  I did manage to do it once, but I don’t remember how, because it was on dollar beer night at the casino.  I suppose I’ll ask her to go back to Sanctuary, even though it’s already getting crowded and I need to plant more – I know!  I’ll practice using the workshop by building her a house!  A monument to our undying love, a Taj Mahal in the Wasteland.  That way I won’t feel so guilty about dumping her on the sidelines while I go run around with a robot french maid.

Also, given my complete lack of mechanical aptitude both in-and-out of game, I’ll probably end up building her a one-room rattleshack with a dripping sink and a broken fan, and just calling it the Taj Mahal.2 We’re lucky I wasn’t tasked with builing the pyramids, or archaeologists today would be excavating a giant, single, uncarved stone block.

At least this solves one problem: I never remember what settlement needs what, so I never know where to store all my junk.  I end up walking around with 30 pounds of assorted gears, oil, concrete, and wire, because I know one place needs a water pump and another needs a turret, but keeping it all straight requires less alcohol consumption than I’m willing to commit to.  But now – it all goes to Sanctuary!  Nothing is too good for Piper!

First things first – it’s time to clean up this joint.  Let’s start scrapping:

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Today on Hoarders …

I know some of the houses in Sanctuary are still usable, because I’ll find my followers sitting at a kitchen table, presumably drinking coffee and talking about current events.  Fortunately, Fallout helpfully outlines junk in yellow and useful items in green:

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200 years or 20,000 ghoul attacks, whichever comes first.
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Pretty sure the game got this one wrong.

It’s kind of fun, running around cleaning up the town … and certainly much easier than cleaning my actual house, especially after poker night.

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Before
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After

I decided I’d build Piper’s house on the vacant slab behind the main house in Sanctuary – the one with the power armor docking station.

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You know … actually … why is there a power armor station in what amounts to Levittown?  Doesn’t a neighborhood watch normally suffice?  I’m assuming it’s pre-War, since the entire Wasteland has pretty much gone downhill since then, but that leaves some serious implications about what the heck was going on in Sanctuary, back in the day.

I debated on wood vs. metal, and settled on wood; I thought it would feel cozier than cold metal walls, plus a lot of the metal pieces were curved; it would have felt like living in a pipe.  Fortunately, I had a good supply of wood, since in my scavenging frenzy I’d deforested the entire town.

One thing I knew for certain was I didn’t wanna go with prefab.  This would be custom-built for my love.

I chose a large-size corner piece, and kind of sort of managed to rotate it to fit the edge of the foundation, provided you understand that by “sort of” I mean “not at all.”

No matter how quick I clicked off the mouse button, it was either a little too far left or a little too far to the right.  You know, they’ve had “snap to grid” features since I was in high school3, so I am assuming pure hatred of the end user is why they never include them in graphics programs.  Allowing objects to free rotate is an invitation to permanent crippling OCD.  I’m lucky they didn’t find me days later, still spinning that damn corner, murmuring the litany of madness to myself.

Maybe it would help if I laid down a foundation first.  I’m not quite sure of the difference between a foundation and a floor, and if I need both, but I’m sure the tutorial will explain all of that.

I just thought I’d throw in a little zany humor there, because Bethesda really took it to heart about not hand-holding the player.  I’m pretty sure the only reason you don’t have to build a time machine and go back to pre-War Boston and get building permits is because they ran out of time to program it.

Well – nothing’s too good for my Piper, so I’ll go with floor and foundation –

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The units come with numbers, but it takes a smarter person than me to figure it out.

So, um, the floor doesn’t fit on the foundation.  That seems suboptimal.

Now, while I appreciate Piper a great deal, all relationships are built on compromise, and in this case, the compromise is building a house in time for us to actually live in it before the game is over.  I scrapped the floor and put some walls together:

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How Sweet Shack

The walls.  Don’t fit the doors.  I haven’t even pondered the non-Euclidean intricacies of “roofs” yet, and I can’t even get the walls to line up.  I thought maybe I could extend it out by building an entrance foyer, but they didn’t line up either, and I saw myself building an endless labyrinth across Sanctuary, praying one of those endless iterations would magically result in something I could put a door on.  Such is the stuff of nightmares.

I stood there, with my non-connecting house where all the boards looked like something not even a methed-up hillbilly would use, getting rained on ’cause I couldn’t build a roof, and thought back to those halcyon days when I thought I could build a pleasure palace for my love:

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“I’m thinking a split-level ranch…”

I didn’t want something from the back lot of Deliverance.  I wanted a real, pre-War house, with that funky blue siding and maybe a mailbox.  Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  I finally gave up and decided on a prefab shack … I was looking at the wooden ones, but to be honest, she already had better than that in Diamond City.

I settled – ha ha – on a “large metal shack,” which basically is two pipes stuck together.  I wasn’t sure about the wisdom of the whole idea, especially (as you will no doubt be surprised to learn) because it was kind of crooked compared to the foundation … but then, so’s Piper, so maybe she’d like it.  I was reassured when she immediately came running in.  I initiated dialogue.  She gave me some bubblegum and said, “hey, dollface.”

OK … metal shack it is.

Next step – pimpin’ the crib.

I built a generator so we’d always have the homey stench of diesel fuel nearby, then slapped a power pylon down.  Once I ran a wire to that I was able to put some lights up in Pipe # 1.

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Along with some decor.

I decided on a fan both for the style and because we were basically living in a giant oven.

To my surprise, the lights didn’t come on in Pipe # 2, which was a problem as I had both a TV and a strobe light goin’ on in there:

I’m not sure if there’s a distance or device limit on the power pylon; I solved it by adding a second pylon by that section of pipe:

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Wire from generator to pylon to pylon 2.

 

And all the little comforts of home:

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A hot tub and a disco ball, oh yeah.

I wanted to add some outside lighting, because I think a neighborhood feels more homey when there are porch lights on.  I was hoping to give it a kind of outdoor-market feel, something upbeat and festive, to go with the disco ball, but that’s impossible to do on what amounts to a metal hot dog.  Also, it takes a second generator:

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No line of sight to the first generator.

When all was said an done, I sat with Piper and watched the sunset as crickets chirped in the background; I have to admit, it felt … peaceful.  It was suburbia, of sorts.  A suburbia filled with super mutants and psychotic robots, sure, but then again, isn’t that what we always imagined was lurking beneath the surface of that picket-fence paradise.

Finally, it was time for us to spend the first night in our new home:

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I can buy a disco ball, but not sheets.

Unlike the Skyrim version, where your partner spends the night either sitting in a chair or looming awkwardly over you, Fallout is prepared to admit that your romantic partner will most likely sleep in the same bed as you.  She also yawns and says “wakey wakey” and a few other unique dialogue options.

“Hey, Piper,” I said, then selected the “talk” option.

She smiled and said “there’s no place I’d rather be.”

We were home.

 

A pack of mentats underneath the bough
A case of Whiskey, sum sugar bombs –and Thou
Beside me snarking in the wasteland —
Oh, the commonwealth were Paradise enow!

Come, fill the nuka cola bottle, and in the fire of Spring
Your leather trenchcoat of Repentance fling:
The bloatfly has but a little way
To fly–and lo! the vertibird is on the wing!

 

  1. Is that what they’re calling it these days?
  2. Which is also how Atlantic City did it.
  3. 2004 BC